I Love Words...Except One
I love to write. Putting together words to create meaning while choosing the right words to create a certain rhythm, emotion and exact meaning satisfies my intellectual and creative spirit.
I love words - all words except one: "is" and its conjugate cousins "am, are, were, be, been."
Why this attack on the word "is?" Its use results in lazy, inexact and boring prose. Let me explain.
"Is" appears when the writer doesn't take the time to find a more descriptive term.
"Writing is fun. It is an activity in which one searches for the word that is the best fit to convey the meaning that is intended."
"Writing, a fun activity, allows one to search for the right word to convey the intended meaning."
"Is" hides responsibility and takes away credit.
"My house is dirty" makes it sound like somehow, my house dirtied itself.
"My husband and son left their sox around the house and have not yet vacuumed" puts the responsibility where it rightfully belongs.
"Is" creates repetitive, unimaginative sentences. Consider the following:
"The road is long and windy. The sun is bright. The grass is green as emeralds." (Yawn!!)
"The long, windy road lead to a pasture that looked like emeralds in the glow of the sun." (Ahhhh!!)
Development writing requires urgency, persuasion, and inspiration. "Is" creates none of these. Consider the following appeals:
"Our organization is helping women who have been victims of domestic violence and are looking for a job find and retain employment."
"Our organization helps previously-abused women find and retain a job."
"You are the reason that these women are able to bring their families out of poverty."
"You help bring women and their families out of poverty."
Which appeal makes you feel compelled to give? Which makes you feel more important for making your gift? Which appeal would you support?
My next blog post will discuss ways to convert your passive voice into more active language. In the meantime, I challenge you to eliminate the word "is" as you write and see how much more powerful and exact your writing becomes.